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4172.0.55.001 - Perspectives on Culture, March 2011  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/03/2011   
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ART GALLERY AND MUSEUM ATTENDANCE


Introduction

A visit to an art gallery or museum can be an informative, colourful and interactive experience and, with a vast array of things to see, galleries and museums generally have something of interest for everyone. For example, the 'National Historical Collection', housed in the National Museum of Australia, consists of over 200,000 pieces and gives visitors the opportunity to enhance their understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and histories as well as Australian history and society since 1788 [National Museum of Australia website ].

In addition to their own collections and permanent exhibits of paintings, sculptures, artefacts, relics etc., galleries and museums host travelling or visiting exhibitions. During 2009-10, the National Gallery of Australia brought a little slice of Paris to our shores when it hosted the 'Masterpieces from Paris' exhibition. Including works of art by artists such as van Gogh and Monet, the exhibition was proclaimed by the Gallery to be the most successful in Australian history attracting more than 476,000 visitors [National Gallery of Australia media release April 2010]

Data published in Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues and Events, Australia, 2009-10 (cat. no. 4114.0) [ABS] indicates that people living in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory were more likely to visit an art gallery (46% and 30% respectively) or museum (46% and 45% respectively) than those living in the states. Information relating to attendance at other cultural activities i.e. zoological parks and aquariums, botanic gardens, libraries, archives, cinemas and performing arts events, is also available in the above publication. This article presents an overview of attendance at art galleries and museums.

Art Galleries

Museums


Art Galleries

Attendance

In 2009-10, more than one quarter of the Australian population aged 15 years and over (26% or 4.5 million people) visited an art gallery in the 12 months prior to interview. This represents a statistically significant increase over the 2005-06 attendance rate of 23%.

Of those people, two out of three (66%) visited an art gallery either once or twice. Those who visited six times or more accounted for 12% of the total.

Area of residence

The highest attendance rate for art galleries was reported by people living in the Australian Capital Territory, with 46% of those aged 15 years and over attending in the 12 months prior to interview. Northern Territory residents also reported high attendance rates (30%), as did residents of Tasmania (27%). Statistically significant increases in attendance rates were found between 2005-06 and 2009-10 in New South Wales (up from 21% to 26%) and Queensland (22% to 26%).

Characteristics of visitors

Across the majority of age groups, attendance rates for females were higher than those for males. Females under the age of 25 were much more likely to visit an art gallery than their male counterparts with attendance rates of 30% and 18% respectively. Overall the attendance rates for all females and males were 29% and 23% respectively.

There were significant increases in attendance rates at art galleries from 2005-06 to 2009-10 for people aged 18-24 years (up from 18% to 22%), 55-64 years (26% to 30%), 65-74 years (22% to 27%) and those aged 75 years and over (16% to 19%).

ATTENDANCE AT ART GALLERIES, By age and sex - 2009-10
Graph: ATTENDANCE AT ART GALLERIES, By age and sex—2009-10


Looking at other personal characteristics, the highest attendance rates at art galleries were reported by people who:
  • were born overseas in a main English-speaking country (34%)
  • were employed part-time (30%)
  • had graduate diplomas and certificates (56%) or postgraduate degrees (51%)
  • were in the highest equivalised household income quintile (39%).


Museums

Attendance

Approximately 4.5 million Australians (26% of the population aged 15 years and over) visited a museum in the 12 months prior to interview in 2009-10. This was significantly higher than the 23% who reported visiting museums in 2005-06.

More than three quarters (76%) of all attendees reported visiting a museum once or twice in the 12 months prior to interview. Fewer than one in ten people (7%) visited a museum more than five times.

Area of residence

The pattern of attendance across the states and territories was similar to that reported for art galleries. People living in the Australian Capital Territory (46%), Northern Territory (45%) and Tasmania (36%) had the highest attendance rates. Statistically significant increases in museum attendance rates occurred in Victoria (up from 21% to 26%), Queensland (22% to 26%) and Tasmania (31% to 36%) between 2005-06 and 2009-10.

Characteristics of visitors

Overall, females were more likely to visit a museum than males, with attendance rates of 27% and 24% respectively. The female dominance was reflected across the majority of age groups and, as was the case for art galleries, was more evident for people under the age of 25. However, attendance rates for females and males aged 25-34 years were very similar for museums (26% for females and males) and art galleries (24% for females and 23% for males) which may reflect couple families with and without dependent children undertaking outings together.

Only persons aged 35-44 years showed a significant increase in attendance rates from 2005-06 to 2009-10 (up from 27% to 32%).

ATTENDANCE AT MUSEUMS, By age and sex - 2009-10
Graph: ATTENDANCE AT MUSEUMS, By age and sex—2009-10


Looking at other personal characteristics, the highest attendance rates at museums were reported by people who:
  • were born overseas in a main English-speaking country (31%)
  • were employed full-time (25%)
  • had graduate diplomas and certificates (50%) or postgraduate degrees (47%)
  • were in the highest equivalised household income quintile (33%) or second highest income quintile (31%).


References

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues and Events, Australia, 2009-10 (cat. no. 4114.0)

National Gallery of Australia, 'Au revoir to Masterpieces from Paris, the most successful exhibition in Australian history', Media release 18 April 2010, viewed 28 February 2011 http://nga.gov.au/AboutUs/press/pdf/AUREVOIRMASTERPIECESFROMPARIS.pdf

National Museum of Australia website


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